A major research project on the legal profession in 2018 will help shape the future of the Law Society of Scotland’s equality and diversity work.

The Profile of the Profession 2018, carried out by independent researchers Rocket Science, will collect demographic information about those working in Scotland’s legal sector along with their current occupation, including details of their current working patterns, such as hours of work, flexible working arrangements and use of any career breaks, to explore the changes in the profession in the past five years.

The survey, which is conducted anonymously, will also ask if members of the legal profession have experienced discrimination and about bullying and harassment issues which they may have experienced personally or witnessed in the workplace.

Last conducted in 2013, with more than 3,400 Scottish solicitors taking part, this year’s survey will seek the  views of all practising and trainee solicitors and for the first time, non-practising members, those retained on the roll and Law Society accredited paralegals will be invited to participate. 

Rob Marrs, Head of Diversity at the Law Society of Scotland, said: “We had a tremendous response to the previous profile of the profession research, with over 3,400 solicitors taking part, and we  encourage all of our members to participate this year to make sure we have an equally positive result.

“It’s important that we know who our members are and that we understand just how the legal profession is changing over the years. For example, the public at large may be surprised to learn that the profession is now majority female: however, women tend to progress more slowly in the profession and the gender distribution is not even. We do not know, however, the ethnicity backgrounds or social backgrounds. It is important that the profession represents the public it serves and this survey allows us to better understand that.

“The research findings will provide insight into the attitudes of individuals in the profession on a range of equality issues and will help to identify any issues in relation to employment policies and career development within the legal sector. The results will also help to set the agenda for our future equality and diversity work - we fully believe that by making this central to our work we can ensure that we continue to have a vibrant and innovative legal profession that is accessible to all and attracts the brightest and best talent.”

The results from the 2013 survey provided insight into the gender pay gap in the legal profession and led to further research in specific areas including a transgender experience case study, perceptions and impacts of working patterns within the legal profession, and experiences of established legal professionals within the profession.

It also led to the development of the Law Society’s Equality Standards, which all law firms are encouraged to adopt, and an increased awareness about potential barriers to progression - highlighted during a year-long ‘’conversation on progression’ in 2016. The Law Society has also published a series of well-received guides for parents in the profession.

The survey will take approximately 15-25 minutes but may take some respondents longer to complete. Respondents can claim up to one hour CPD. Find our more and read our FAQs.

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Profile of the profession

The Profile of the Profession is major study of those working in Scotland’s legal sector. It was last conducted in May 2018, with more than 2,700 Scottish solicitors and accredited paralegals taking part.